We told you earlier this month that it felt like a safe time to put your faith in the Phillies. They had won eight straight games, had an easy schedule the rest of the way, had their best roster in a decade, and had a 56.7% chance of reaching the postseason.
Maybe we spoke too soon. The Phillies have since lost six of eight games, and their playoff odds have dropped to just 26.8%. The team’s playoff odds according to FanGraphs have decreased by half in just 10 days, and after they’ve lost two straight to the lowly Diamondbacks.
Atlanta’s playoff odds were at 26.2% on Aug. 9 and have since spiked to 69%, as the Braves lead the National League East by 3 1/2 games. The Phillies might still have an easy schedule for the final stretch of the season, but their playoff odds are no longer in their favor.
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— Matt Breen (email@example.com)
The Phillies offense remains dormant in the desert, Scott Lauber writes from Arizona.
The Phillies tried to jumpstart their offense last night by moving Odúbel Herrera into the leadoff spot.
Is Zack Wheeler the NL Cy Young favorite? Lauber sizes up the field.
Today: Wheeler faces Madison Bumgarner in the series finale vs. Arizona, 3:40 p.m.
Tomorrow: Matt Moore vs. Blake Snell in the series opener in San Diego, 10:10 p.m.
Saturday: Aaron Nola vs. Joe Musgrove in Game 2, 8:40 p.m.
Sunday: Kyle Gibson pitches the series finale vs. the Padres, 3:40 p.m.
Monday: The Phillies are off.
Stat of the day
Bryce Harper has a chance to finish in some elite company in franchise history. He’s hitting .294 with a .411 on-base percentage and .567 slugging percentage. If he gets his average to .300, Harper will be the first Phillie since Chase Utley (2007) to finish with a .300/.400/.500 slash line. Ryan Howard also did it, in 2006.
His OPS+ is at 166, and if he gets that to 169, he’ll be the first Phils player to do so since Mike Schmidt in 1980. Howard won the NL MVP award in 2006, Utley might have won it in 2007 if he didn’t get hurt, and Schmidt won it in 1980. Harper has a chance to do so in 2021.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: I’ve almost had enough of the season. When does spring training start? — Rich D. via email
Answer: Thanks, Rich. The Phillies announced their spring-training schedule this week, and they will begin 2022 Grapefruit League play on Feb. 26 in Tampa against the Yankees. Their first home spring game will be the following day against Minnesota. They’ll be home on St. Patrick’s Day against the Orioles, and they’ll finish camp March 29 against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field, the Rays’ regular-season home.